When I see the horses standing by the railway line on my commute, I see beauty, majesty, the sheen on a coat glossy in the morning light. I do not think, “its coat is too brown, it’s legs too spindly, its eyelashes too long for its eyes”. I do not judge its appearance.
When I see my little life-force of a child bounding out of bed in the morning I see the most positive energy in the world, I see blonde curls, eyes of cornflowers, I see a gaptoothed grin that I’ll remember for a thousand years, I see downy skin – peachy keen. I do not think, “that blonde is a dirty blonde, bleach it”. “Those eyes too blue, contacts would be a better choice”, “that peachy fuzz must be shaved, smooth is best”.
When I see my partner at the end of a long, long day I see lines of care, beauty etched beneath eyes that smile often and unbidden. I see strength in arms and legs. I see a roundness and fullness in a body I’ve known in detail for 10 years and that I wouldn’t change for all the riches of the world. I do not think, “makeup is required for those tired eyes”, “those limbs are too long”. I do not think that starving of half the calories per day required to live would be a better alternative to the soft curve of his stomach.
Yet when I review myself in the mirror, I see scars and stretches, I see blotches and lumps and bumps. I struggle to find the beauty that I see in all the things around me that I love and admire without judgement. I see things that need changing; a curve from here removed, a line from there. Dye for the greys, the hair escaping past the knicker line shaved away.
I do not know how I can be without judgement for some, but not for me. I think in part it’s that there is a world around me that thinks the woman, a woman, women, should always be bettering themselves-that they’re not quite good enough as they are. That they should always be conforming. I didn’t used to think this, but more and more I’ve come to appreciate the things that many of us now accept as a cost of being a woman who is trying to fit in. If we weren’t trying to fit in, why would we settle for the expectation that we will undertake the following, unforced;
plucking, tweezing, shaving, razoring, waxing, cutting, crimping, straightening, curling, moisturising, tanning, bleaching, lightening, darkening, dying, picking, combing, brushing, weighing, squeezing, tightening, loosening, relaxing, constricting, binding, tieing, raising, lowering, scrubbing, exfoliating, smoothing, scenting, deodorising, lazoring, passing currents through, measuring, compressing, starving, feeding, painting, threading, polishing OUR BODIES, our skin, the thing that holds “US” in place. The thing that ensures that WE get to experience this world. We do not do these things unasked to others, why ourselves?
Enough, I’m done. I know what beauty is and it’s not those things. I know what Love is and those things won’t bring me love. I know where my love is and it’s not bought or for sale from a Boots counter. Enough. I know where the love is. It’s taken me a while to find it, but finally I found it, it was right where I left it all along.